The CARES Act: Five Things that School and District Leaders Need to Know Now

April 30, 2020
Sean Worley, Scott Palmer

The following was created in partnership with the Wallace Foundation and originally appeared on their blog on April 23, 2020.
The newly enacted federal law in response to the coronavirus crisis provides more than $30 billion for K-12 and higher education programs; more than $4 billion for early childhood education; and other supports such as forgivable loans to nonprofits, including many providers of afterschool or summer programs. The Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act comes at a moment when many states and districts are closing schools while seeking to continue to educate students, out-of-school-time programs are pondering how best to offer services and summer is fast approaching.
To assist decision makers, this post summarizes five things that school and district leaders should know about the major education provisions in the CARES Act. It also contains information pertaining to nonprofits.

The $2.3 trillion CARES Act provides new, one-time funding for states, districts and schools—based in part on poverty but with significant flexibility regarding where funds are used.

The law includes a $30.75 billion Education Stabilization Fund divided into three parts and meant to provide initial […]


Lessons Learned, or Lost?

September 6, 2019
Kathryn Young

As I chat with my kids about their first week of school, I can feel their nervous excitement about new classmates and teachers, books yet unread, projects to come, and hidden talents yet to be discovered.  School systems and homes all across America share in this time of preparation and anticipation for the new school year.  Often less heralded, however, is the work schools and education systems do to look back at prior work and figure out how this year can be even better.   For example, at my children’s school, a committee of parents and teachers are starting the year with a backwards look at the newly-released state assessment scores.  We are asking ourselves what the data mean for the effectiveness of last year’s strategies and staffing.  We’ll use those insights to help decide what to keep or change this year and beyond.  It is just one part of a larger process of continuous improvement the school uses to learn from and improve its supports and strategies.
In many schools, fall is also the time for new […]


Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity

June 26, 2019
Art Coleman and Jamie Lewis-Keith

Earlier this month, the College Board, NASFAA, and EducationCounsel released a new publication, Federal Nondiscrimination Law Regarding Diversity: Implications for Higher Education Financial Aid and Scholarship Policies and Programs.  This resource provides guidance to enrollment professionals around financial aid strategies and scholarship policies involving the consideration of race, ethnicity and sex that advance the institution’s diversity goals and are legally sustainable.
Financial aid and scholarship policies and practices are subject to the same federal nondiscrimination laws as admissions programs, but unlike admissions, they have not generated significant attention or been the subject of Supreme Court decisions.  Notably, the current legal landscape now involves an increased number of federal litigation and agency enforcement claims that reflect an expanded scope (beyond admissions), including allegations of race and sex discrimination in financial aid, as well as co-curricular and similar programs.
Advancing the diversity-associated mission of institutions of higher education requires attending to the imperatives of good policy and legal sustainability.  This guide seeks to elevate awareness of how to do that, with a focus on financial aid and […]


The Role of Student Experience in Postsecondary Completion

The Mindset Scholars Network in cooperation with
EducationCounsel and the Raikes Foundation invite you to a briefing on:
The Role of Student Experience in Postsecondary Completion
Tuesday, June 4, 2019
4:00 p.m. – 5:00 p.m.
Russell Senate Office Building, SR-385
With only about half of all students who enroll in postsecondary education completing a degree, institutions and policymakers are seeking evidence-based ways to improve college completion and advance equity. Leading researchers Claude Steele, Stanford professor and author of Whistling Vivaldi and Other Clues to How Stereotypes Affect Us, Mary Murphy of Indiana University, Greg Walton of Stanford University, and Lisa Quay of the Mindset Scholars Network are engaged in efforts to better understand how students’ experiences impacts their persistence and completion and are developing evidence-based actions institutions can take to support postsecondary completion.
Read the Full PDF.


How rising teacher pension costs hurt school districts

Originally posted at on April 22, 2019.
States try to rescue their pension systems from bankruptcy, leaving less money for classrooms and teacher pay
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. — Glenn Gustafson was already bracing for a rough Valentine’s Day. Looming on his calendar was a sure-to-be-wrenching meeting to cut $10 million in spending from the Colorado Springs School District’s budget, a move largely forced by rapidly declining enrollment as families moved out of the district and singles moved in. Gustafson, the district’s CFO and — according to his wife — the “world’s only extroverted accountant,” had dubbed the meeting the “St. Valentine’s Day Massacre.”
And then, the week before the scheduled budget bloodshed, he attended a presentation by the director of the state’s pension system and got some unpleasant news. Gustafson learned that his district might have to slash an additional $890,000 next year, as part of the state’s latest attempt to make the system solvent by 2049.
Read the Full Article.


Race in admissions in the wake of the Texas Tech resolution

By Art Coleman, JD, and Jamie Lewis Keith, JD.
Originally posted at on April 12, 2019.
Medical schools may continue to pursue the all-important goals of diversity and inclusion while following the principles of law.
This week we learned that the U.S. Department of Education Office for Civil Rights (OCR) had resolved a complaint filed almost 14 years ago against Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC). TTUHSC School of Medicine signed a resolution agreement ending the practice of considering race in admissions unless and until such time that it determines such consideration to be appropriate under the federal legal standards outlined by the OCR — and on the condition that it provides advance notice of that change to the OCR.
Read the Full Article.


AAAS and EducationCounsel to Update Legal-Policy Guidance to Advance Campus Diversity Efforts

Originally posted at on March 27, 2019.
While the legal landscape has become increasingly challenging, advancing diversity, equity and inclusion in STEM remains doable if you do it right,” said Jamie Lewis Keith, Partner at EducationCounsel. “We are enormously grateful to the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation for enabling AAAS and EducationCounsel to partner on this critical work to equip higher education institutions and their policy and legal leaders with guidance, strategies and practical tools they need to stay strongly committed. A team-oriented focus on what can be done—and how to do it effectively, but wisely—will help institutions meet new and developing challenges successfully.
Read the Full Article.


Leading science, education, and medical organizations announce new initiative: Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM

February 15, 2019 | By Jamie Lewis Keith, Partner
A recent 2018 consensus study by the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine titled, Sexual Harassment of Women: Climate, Culture and Consequences in Academic Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (Academies Report), reported that sexual and gender harassment remain widespread and prevalent, and have negative outcomes for women, as well as others (albeit at lesser rates):

Greater than 50 percent of women faculty and 20-50 percent of women students encounter or experience sexually harassing conduct in academic science, engineering, and medicine (Academies Report 65) and women with multiple societal identities targeted for bias experience harassment at even greater rates (p. 44-46).

Recognizing sexual harassment as a barrier to excellence, the newly launched Societies Consortium on Sexual Harassment in STEMM is a collective act of leadership and accountability—53 societies strong and counting—to advance inclusion and success of all talent in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, and medical (STEMM) fields. Collective efforts on this scale don’t happen often (the full press release can be read here).
By bringing together academic and professional societies of every size and […]


Lawyers on Race-Conscious Admissions: ‘This is Doable. But Also, Do it Right.’

January 31, 2019 |
By Nell Gluckman
If part of the intent of the recent affirmative-action lawsuits brought against universities was to send a chill through admissions offices, it doesn’t seem to be working. Most of the discussion at a conference here this week on race and admissions was about how to do a better job bringing underrepresented minority students to campuses, not about whether it can be done at all.
“We do have to be creative about solutions on equity,” said Stella M. Flores, an associate dean and associate professor at New York University.
Read the full article at


Taking a Holistic Look at Higher Ed Admissions

December 13, 2018
Art Coleman

I’m very pleased to share that the College Board’s Access and Diversity Collaborative today released “Understanding Holistic Review in Higher Education Admissions: Guiding Principles and Model Illustrations.” The guide provides insights into the logic, rigor, and fairness behind effective holistic review–a practice that is under attack in a growing number of court and agency actions. My co-author and EducationCounsel colleague Jamie Lewis Keith and I hope that we’ve helped open the “black box” of admissions decision-making, with an overview of the key features and elements of well-designed holistic review policy and practice. We include institutional examples and promising models that illustrate effective and sustainable practices. We also argue for more transparency on these issues. Over time, our challenges are not only in the courts of law, where we’ve won more than we’ve lost. We’ve got to do a better job in the court of public opinion–explaining the compelling case of what admissions officials do, and why, every day. #diversity #affirmativeaction #admissions